Blackrock College coach Barry Gibney had mixed reactions after his side were made to work hard for a 26-13 victory over Clontarf in AIB League Division 1A on Saturday.
Coming into the final quarter at Stradbrook with Clontarf leading 13-6, it looked like Blackrock College were going to make it six defeats in-a-row but they showed their skill to spark a great comeback.
After conceding a soft intercept try to the ever-alert Clontarf winger Michael Keating in the seventh minute, ‘Rock were chasing the visitors for a large part of the game.
However, they were well able to produce the goods when it came down to the wire, with particular credit to some of their young back-line stars such as Andrew Conway and Kyle Tonetti who bagged a try apiece.
The final scoreline may have been slightly flattering since the visitors maintained the upper hand in attack and defence for large parts of the game, but Blackrock proved that they can use their talent at the crucial moments.
‘Rock coach Barry Gibney explained that in the final quarter it was all about a patient build-up and keeping possession.
“The important thing was when we held onto the ball for the last 15 minutes and went through the phases and recycled it, we created the opportunities and we were able to take them,” he told IrishRugby.ie afterwards.
“That’s what it was really about today and if we could do that in 80 minutes of play, that’s what we’d be working to.”
Blackrock were extremely lucky to be trailing by only one point at the end of the first half and indeed this was mainly due to the fact that Clontarf did not make the most of their scoring opportunities.
“Our set piece let us down a bit and then when we moved a bit of ball we lost it in contact, so we weren’t very accurate for the first half of the game,” explained Gibney.
“When that changed in the second half we were able to hold on to the ball and create opportunities and thankfully get those scores.”
Regardless of the way they went about the win, it was all about getting the league points and getting back into contention for the title.
“We’re delighted, we’ve lost a few games recently so it’s good to get a win. The nature of this league, it’s such a tough league so all the points you can get are so important.”
Blackrock have experienced a dramatic change of form this season, winning the first three league matches comprehensively and then losing the next five.
Gibney admitted that with the changing weather conditions and the competition heating up, the season has become progressively tougher for his side.
“At the start of the season, there were better conditions, drier ground. We had quite a good pre-season with the lads, training quite hard, so they were quite fit coming into the start of the season. But now other teams have caught up quite a bit.
“On this ground it’s harder to run and sometimes the guys get caught into a running game when the conditions aren’t really made for it.”
For Clontarf, the win was there for the taking but head coach Simon Broughton put the result down to missed opportunities.
“Blackrock came back well. I knew they would because they were at home, it was just a couple of missed opportunities we had,” he said.
“The first part of the second half there were a few opportunities which may have closed out the game or at least put them under a bit more pressure. But that’s what it’s all about, taking your opportunities and I think we created enough, we just didn’t finish them.”
Although they were unlucky with several chances, the north Dubliners should have been more clinical with their finishing as Broughton readily admitted.
“The execution is something we’re going to have to work on. We’ll go back to look at it during the week, prepare for our next match against Dolphin but we know it’s not going to be easy, there’s no let up in this league.”